Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



website re-design!

Well HELLO there! Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Our website just got a facelift!

Please click around. We’ve cleaned up quite a bit (yay for less clutter), so please note that we haven’t migrated all of the website and blog content over just yet; that takes some time. And since we’re in the middle of launching this right now, today … if you notice any “bugs” just know we’re working through those. We’re also working on NEW content and features. Check back often. It’s never a dull moment around here.

Oh – and guess what? We are now mobile optimized! Check us out on your smart phone or tablet and you’ll see what I mean. So much browsing awesomeness. You’ll love it.

Our new look is thanks to our newest member of the Becky Higgins team. Please join me in welcoming Brad! He’s just as nice as he is talented, and we’re grateful for all his hard work already. As a team, we are super excited about soooo much that we have in store for YOU in the coming weeks and months, and Brad is going to be the guy that make all the website magic happen as we implement some fun things.


There is no way I could welcome our new web guy without paying tribute to the one who has been working all of his magic for the past several years. My brother Andrew has been fantastic – and what a fun opportunity is has been for us to collaborate as he worked tirelessly (sometimes way too late at night!) to cross off things on our website wish list.

So why the switch? (Someone will ask.) Andrew has a web design agency called Cambio Labs. Day in and day out they are creating web sites and building brands as they help many companies – from home builders to retail stores to businesses in the health industry. Andrew has offered an awesome service to our company on an as-needed basis and he is very talented; no question.

As our own company has grown exponentially over the past few years, we have increasing needs for someone full-time and in-house, instead of contracting occasional web needs out to a 3rd party agency. Simply put, it was time to hire someone to focus on web (and related) projects full-time. Should any of you reading this happen to have website or branding needs, I highly recommend reaching out to Andrew – seriously. He and his agency are really fantastic to work with.


Okay so moving along to more that we have in store for you today! In addition to a new website and a new employee, we also have a new gift for you! Woo-hoo! Check out our Freebies section and you’ll find exactly what many of you have been hoping for and asking about. It’s that time of year, friends. We have an annual tradition of offering free holiday card templates, ready to be customized with YOUR family photo!


You might remember we held a design contest last month. We received lots of great submissions and as a team, we chose our 12 personal favorites for you to download. They’re awesome. They’re FREE. They’re available right now on our shiny, new website! Head over to the Freebies page to download them.

Just so you know, with every one of the 12 design options, there are 3 sizes available for each. How cool is that? Drop in your photo, add a bit of text if you want, upload to your favorite printer, and you are DONE with your holiday card for 2013! We’ve even included a step-by-step tutorial on how to use them.

Oh, and check back later this week because we’ll be sharing helpful tips on writing that holiday newsletter that many of you like to send with the family photo.

Congratulations to the following who created the winning designs!

  • Mandi Miles (Utah)
  • Kelly Sill (Florida)
  • Kimberly Church (Nevada)
  • Allie Bandy-Trumpower (Ohio)
  • Lori Ruedi (California)
  • Geralyn Sy (Canada)
  • Crystal Moody (Missouri)
  • Heidi Stock (Oklahoma)
  • Tiffany Webster (Arizona)
  • Jana McLaren (Canada)


One last note (the excitement has to stop at some point!) … This week is my LIVE online course on creativeLIVE. It’s available to everyone, everywhere in the world (as long as you have an internet connection). You can learn about it here – and be sure to register! It’s free and you’re obligated to nothing, but registering will give you the updates you’ll want as we get closer to Wednesday, whether you’re going to be available to actually watch it live or catch it later.

Tune in tomorrow where I’ll be giving you a little more insight about what to expect in the course.


Alright, my friends. Carry on. Click around. And enjoy the rest of your day!


74 Responses

  1. Deborah says:

    I love the new look! I noticed that the Project Life badge on my blog is a bit wonky – if I click on it, it still links through to here, but on my blog there is no longer a graphic, just the words ‘cultivate a good life by Becky Higgins’.
    Well done!

  2. Pat says:

    looking for this link i just got in a Big Picture scrapbooking email

  3. […] at the seams to share that one of my designs has been picked as a “winner” for the Becky Higgin’s annual Holiday Card design contest!  Every year, Becky holds a contest to design 10 cards for her to giveaway to her readers… […]

  4. Sarah says:

    I like the new look. Very clean and pretty! I hope we can still have access to the old blog posts!

  5. Jennifer Merkley says:

    did all the old content from your blog disappear? this is the only post I can find.

    • Brandi Nielsen says:

      Yes, we will be uploading the old posts to this new site. It will take a bit of time, so we appreciate your patience and we get it all up and running!

  6. Lida says:

    I’m not sure your site is complete yet, I can’t find your old posts, can’t locate your pl team.

    I really don’t like to open every post to read. There needs to be a choice on how to view the site.

    Hope all the kinks get iron out soon.

    • Brandi Nielsen says:

      We will be uploading the old posts to the new site soon. This is going to take time, so we appreciate your patience as we get it all up and running.

  7. Kelli McCown says:

    I tried to download the holiday cards, but it says the download file is invalid, what am I doing wrong? The new site looks AWESOME by the way!!!

  8. Kate says:

    That’s exciting … A new look!
    But … I’m on my iPhone and I don’t see an option to look at everything in normal/full view? I really dislike viewing things in mobile mode! Please bring this feature back or I will be super sad!
    Thanks for listening to me in Sydney Australia :)

  9. Katy says:

    Yeah! I was just going to ask when those great card templates would be ready! Thanks so much!

  10. JenniferL says:

    I was just coming to leave a comment to ask about the card designs for this year. They are super-duper this year! Great job ladies!
    And the new website looks great too!

  11. Nicole says:

    Love the new look (loved the old look too)

  12. Linda says:

    I understand your new website is not finished yet, but I really hate it if I have to open up every blog post entry to read it, I love to just scroll down and read all the posts and see everything without having to click it open and then go back.

  13. Shanon says:

    In case it makes a difference… I would just like to add my vote for being able to see all the posts on your blog without having to open each one. But I understand things take time… Overall… love the look. Much cleaner!

  14. Kelly Sill says:

    The designs are GORGEOUS!!!! So honored to have been chosen as one of the 12. Thank you Becky and team for all you do!!!

  15. Joelle says:

    Wondering if there is a way to do the Xmas cards without having PhotoShop Elements? I have a Mac — any advice would be appreciated!

  16. Joelle says:

    Ok, never mind — I can actually do it in Word… but now the photo is really pixelated… so still happy for suggestions…

  17. Laurie Pecotte Laurie Pecotte says:

    Hi Joelle,
    You might look into Gimp. I don’t know a lot about it, but it is supposed to be similar to Photoshop and it is free. You basically just need a program that has the ability to layer files on top of each other and one that can read PNG files. Your photo needs to go underneath the card template. You can download Gimp here:


    There are also lots of tutorials out there on the internet for using this program for digital scrapbooking. Hope that helps!

  18. Sue says:

    Love the new design, lovely and clean and very easy to read on my tablet. Thanks for all the hard work. :)

  19. Casey says:

    Congrats on the new design! Love the freshness & colorful look. Yippee for mobile-friendly! :)

  20. Emily says:

    Ahhh, I need your buttermilk pancake and syrup recipe for this weekend I had planned to make them for a special occasion. I hope it’s up by then.

  21. Cindy B. says:

    This might sound strange but I am looking for a post you did a few years ago. “I failed English”. I’ve had it marked as a favorite and desperately need to pull it up again.
    My daughter is struggling in 7th grade math and her teacher was kind enough to tell the class that if they fail Math in middle school they will NEVER graduate!!
    I wanted to show her your post and give her some much needed positive encouragement!!
    Thank you so much for your help!!!

  22. Brianne says:

    The new site design looks great! I don’t know if anyone else is having the same problem, but I use Feedly to keep up with my blogs and the new site didn’t transfer over. I tried to add it manually and that’s not working either. The last post that is showing up for me is the April Cobb headband giveaway on November 6. I love your blog so I’m hoping that this will be able to be fixed. Thanks!

  23. Diane Mason says:

    I know the website is undergoing an update. but hoping your recipe section will be added back soon! You had so many wonderful recipes that I was hoping to try one day. :)

  24. Pat says:

    I liked the old blog better

  25. Umm….have you guys turned your spam protection on?

    I can’t find the PL badge to link to on my blog, and blogger isn’t liking the new blog link. Looks like I can no longer include a link to Becky’s blog on my blog under the blogs l read banner.

    Not sure if you guys can help?

  26. Stephanie says:

    Love the idea behind the new look but I can’t find the product lists or the winter product list. I can go on amazon but that doesn’t include everything available. I wanted to pick out my 2014 kits and would love just to be able to see everything available. I imagine that is coming.

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  36. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. cheers

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    STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: September 21, 2006; Updated after news briefing Atlantis swoops out of the early morning darkness for touchdown. Credit: NASA-KSCThe shuttle Atlantis dropped out of a clear, dark sky and glided to an eerie predawn landing today at the Kennedy Space Center, wrapping up a successful space station assembly mission that kicks off a complex sequence of construction flights.With commander Brent Jett at the controls, Atlantis settled to a tire-smoking touchdown on runway 33 at 6:21:30 a.m., just 15 minutes after the space station, now sporting a huge new set of solar arrays, sailed through the predawn sky over Florida, a brilliant “star” rivaling Venus or Jupiter in brightness.As Jett guided the 100-ton spaceplane down the 3-mile-long runway at more than 200 mph, pilot Chris Ferguson fired the ship’s braking parachute, the nose dropped to the landing strip and a few moments later, Atlantis rolled to a stop.”Wheels stopped, Houston,” Jett radioed as Atlantis braked to a halt.”We copy, wheels stopped,” replied astronaut Tony Antonelli from mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Welcome back, congratulations on return to assembly.””Thanks, Houston. It’s nice to be back, it was a great team effort,” Jett replied. “I think assembly’s off to a good start.”Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:SHUTTLE ATLANTIS GLIDES TO SAFE LANDING VIDEO:LONGER LENGTH MOVIE OF ATLANTIS’ RETURN VIDEO:VIEW FROM RUNWAY MID-POINT VIDEO:CAMERA ON SOUTH END OF RUNWAY VIDEO:VIEW FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING ROOF VIDEO:LANDING WITH NATURAL SOUND FROM THE RUNWAY VIDEO:SUN RISES OVER ATLANTIS ON BEAUTIFUL MORNING VIDEO:NASA OFFICIALS EXAMINE ATLANTIS VIDEO:THE ASTRONAUTS WELCOMED HOME VIDEO:CREW WALKS AROUND ATLANTIS VIDEO:CREW DEPARTS THE RUNWAY VIDEO:POST-LANDING NEWS CONFERENCE VIDEO:ATLANTIS TOWED BACK TO HANGAR MORE: The 116th shuttle mission spanned 11 days 19 hours six minutes and 35 seconds since blastoff Sept. 9, covering 4.9 million miles and 186 complete orbits. Today’s landing was the 21st nighttime descent in shuttle history and the 15th to the Kennedy Space Center.Landing came one day later than originally planned to allow time for a final heat shield inspection after presumed debris from the shuttle was spotted floating near the orbiter on Tuesday. No problems were found and Atlantis was cleared for entry today.Jett, Ferguson, flight engineer Dan Burbank, Joe Tanner, Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper doffed their flights suits and climbed out of the shuttle about a hour after touchdown.”It’s really a beautiful day in Florida, it’s a great way to end the mission,” Jett said after receiving congratulations from NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and other agency officials. “I”m not really sure what to say after a flight like that. It was a pretty tough few days for us, a lot of hard work, a great team effort to get the station assembly restarted on a good note. We’ve got a lot more missions coming up and they’re going to be just as difficult.”The astronauts inspected the shuttle’s heat shield during a brief runway walk around, mingling with engineers and technicians before heading to crew quarters for medical checks and reunions with family members.”I’d like to say to the folks here at KSC, though, Atlantis was a terrific ship,” Jett said. “In fact, she gave us absolutely no problems at all over the entire mission.”NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said Atlantis’ picture-perfect landing marked “a really great day” for NASA as the agency gears up for a challenging sequence of space station assembly missions.”It is obvious to me and I hope it’s obvious to you, we are rebuilding the kind of momentum that we have had in the past and that we need if we’re going to finish the space station,” he said. “Because we have an awesome task ahead of us. The space station is half built, we have half to go. When we’re all done, it weighs nearly a million pounds for humanity’s first really long-term outpost in space. We’re halfway there, but I think we’re going to make it.”LeRoy Cain, launch site chairman of NASA’s Mission Management Team, said today’s entry and landing were “right by the numbers.””I spoke with our colleagues in mission control and they really didn’t have any problems to work during landing,” he said. “It was really right down the middle and of course, Brent Jett and his crew just performed outstanding. It’s really a great accomplishment for us, for the whole team.”Launch Director Mike Leinbach said a quick inspection on the runway showed Atlantis came through launch and re-entry in good condition, adding “she looks as good or better than Discovery did after her last mission.”Atlantis’ descent began on the other side of the planet when Jett and Ferguson fired the ship’s twin braking rockets at 5:14:28 a.m. for two minutes and 40 seconds, slowing the ship by about 200 mph and dropping the far point of its orbit deep into the atmosphere.After a half-hour free-fall, Atlantis dropped into the discernible atmosphere 76 miles above the south Pacific Ocean. A few hundred miles ahead, the crew of the international space station had a bird’s eye view as the shuttle plowed into the dense lower atmosphere, blazing like a shooting star as it shed its enormous velocity through atmospheric friction.”I’ve got a visual again, steady, steady glow with a very visible contrail behind it,” Williams radioed. “The contrail’s steadily getting brighter. … Still very bright, steady, got the orbiter with the very bright glow of the contrail behind it. It’s like watching the contrail behind an airplane, you don’t see it immediately behind the orbiter.”Even with sunrise approaching, “the brightest thing through the window is the orbiter.””I’m watching from up front in the lab,” Expedition 14 commander Mike Lopez-Alegria reported. “I’ve got a great view out the lab window.”A few minutes later, observers on the ground at the Kennedy Space Center spotted the space station flying over, looking like a brilliant star as it moved through the predawn sky and into sunlight.Atlantis’ flight marked the resumption of space station assembly after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus in the wake of the 2003 Columbia disaster. Over the course of a busy week in space, the astronauts attached a 35,000-pound solar array truss segment, unfurled a new set of solar blankets spanning 240 feet from tip to tip and wired it into the station’s electrical system.Despite problems getting Atlantis off the ground – a lightning strike, tropical storm Ernesto, a fuel cell problem and trouble with a fuel tank sensor – NASA chalked up a solid success in orbit, setting the stage for a flurry of station assembly flights.”At the end of this exciting mission, I just have to remind everybody that we are back in the (space station) assembly business,” shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said Wednesday. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team. This is one of the most complex missions that’s ever been flown in space. … It has been an outstanding effort.””We’re set up in a very good way for the next set of assembly flights. There are about six in a row here that we really need to pull off in fairly rapid order without major problems in order to keep the assembly going.”Next up is launch of the shuttle Discovery in December on a mission to rewire the space station’s electrical system, to ferry a fresh flight engineer to the outpost – Sunita Williams – and to bring European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter back to Earth.The current launch target is 6:55 p.m. on Dec. 14, but NASA managers are looking at the possibility of moving the launch up to around 9:38 p.m. on Dec. 7.”We’re assessing that right now,” Leinbach said. “It’s really going to be paced by the external tank that you know arrived a day or so ago. The tank is being lifted today into the checkout cell. That really is the pacing item. … Our first blush is, we’re going to give it a good shot.”A launch in December would require NASA to give up a self-imposed constraint requiring daylight for launch as well as external tank separation to provide photo-documentation of the external tank’s insulation and the shuttle’s heat shield.NASA managers are expected to discuss the issue next week at a program requirements control board meeting and Cain said today he’s optimistic about getting a go-ahead for the first post-Columbia night flight in December.”I expect we will, in all likelihood, be able to launch at night as early as STS-116 (in December), but we’re going to go pound that flat and make sure we’re not missing anything.”Looking ahead to the upcoming station assembly flights, Hale said “if we are able to pull them off with even half the success that we saw on this flight, we will have a great year in 2007 and I think we will be well down the road to getting the space station assembled on time.”Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ATLANTIS CLEARED FOR ENTRY VIDEO:WEDNESDAY’S FLIGHT DIRECTOR UPDATE VIDEO:BRIEFING ON THE INSPECTION PLAN VIDEO:MONDAY BRIEFING BY SHUTTLE CHIEF VIDEO:LANDING OF ATLANTIS DELAYED ONE DAY VIDEO:SHUTTLE CAMERA SPOTS MYSTERY OBJECT VIDEO:HOUSTON TELLS CREW ABOUT THE OBJECT VIDEO:SUNDAY’S STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:STATION BACKDROPPED BY BLACK SPACE VIDEO:STATION SLIDES BY EARTH’S HORIZON VIDEO:SPACE STATION FLYAROUND BY ATLANTIS VIDEO:ATLANTIS UNDOCKS FROM THE STATION VIDEO:HATCHWAY CLOSED FOR UNDOCKING VIDEO:SHUTTLE ASTRONAUTS BID FAREWELL VIDEO:FLIGHT DIRECTOR EXPLAINS UNDOCKING VIDEO:LAUNCH AS SEEN BY HIGH-ALTITUDE WB-57 AIRCRAFT VIDEO:SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER CAM: STARBOARD INWARD VIDEO:SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER CAM: STARBOARD UPWARD VIDEO:SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER CAM: STARBOARD DOWNWARD VIDEO:SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER CAM: PORT INWARD VIDEO:SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER CAM: PORT UPWARD VIDEO:SOLID ROCKET BOOSTER CAM: PORT DOWNWARD VIDEO:FIRST SOLAR WING DEPLOYED HALF-WAY VIDEO:SECOND SOLAR WING EXTENDED ONE SECTION VIDEO:FIRST SOLAR WING EXTENDED ONE SECTION VIDEO:POST-EVA 2 STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:PORT 3/PORT 4 TRUSS KEEL PIN REMOVED AND STOWED VIDEO:HELMETCAM OF BURBANK REMOVING SARJ RESTRAINT VIDEO:SPACEWALKERS PAUSE FOR PICTURE TIME VIDEO:STEVE MACLEAN REPORTS LOST BOLT VIDEO:ROTARY JOINT LOCK REMOVED BY SPACEWALKER VIDEO:STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 2 VIDEO:POST-EVA 1 STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:TANNER LOSES BOLT DURING ROTARY JOINT WORK VIDEO:PIPER UNFOLDS SOLAR BLANKET BOXES VIDEO:SECOND WING’S STRUCTURE DEPLOYED BY PIPER VIDEO:FIRST SOLAR WING’S STRUCTURE DEPLOYED BY TANNER VIDEO:STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 VIDEO:TRUSS HANDED FROM SHUTTLE ARM TO STATION ARM VIDEO:ARM MANEUVERS TRUSS OVER SHUTTLE WING VIDEO:TRUSS SLOWLY LIFTED OUT OF PAYLOAD BAY VIDEO:ATLANTIS’ ARM GRAPPLES THE TRUSS VIDEO:MONDAY’S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:ATLANTIS WELCOMED ABOARD THE STATION VIDEO:DOCKING REPLAY FROM CAMERA ON SHUTTLE ARM VIDEO:SHUTTLE ATLANTIS DOCKS TO THE STATION VIDEO:ATLANTIS’ BREATH-TAKING FLIP MANEUVER VIDEO:CREW’S CAMCORDER FOOTAGE OF EXTERNAL TANK VIDEO:NARRATED ANIMATION PREVIEWING TRUSS UNBERTHING VIDEO:NARRATED ANIMATION PREVIEWING THE DOCKING VIDEO:NARRATED ANIMATION OF PAYLOAD BAY CONFIGURATION MORE: VIDEO:BRIEFING ON TANK’S PERFORMANCE VIDEO:TANK’S ONBOARD CAMERA LIFTOFF TO SEPARATION VIDEO:FLIGHT DIRECTOR EXPLAINS INSPECTIONS VIDEO:SUNDAY’S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:LAUNCH OF ATLANTIS! VIDEO:SHEDDING FOAM MAY HAVE HIT ATLANTIS VIDEO:ONBOARD VIEW OF EXTERNAL TANK SEPARATION VIDEO:INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH VIDEO:STATION CREW TOLD VISITORS EN ROUTE VIDEO:HOUSTON RADIOS DEBRIS REPORT TO CREW VIDEO:POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE VIDEO:QUICK-LOOK BRIEFING ON DEBRIS LAUNCH REPLAYS:VIDEO:BEACH MOUND TRACKER VIDEO:CAMERA IN FRONT OF PAD VIDEO:BANANA CREEK VIEWING SITE VIDEO:VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING ROOF VIDEO:PAD 39B SIDE PERIMETER VIDEO:PLAYALINDA BEACH TRACKER VIDEO:PLAYALINDA BEACH ZOOM VIDEO:UCS 23 TRACKER VIDEO:UCS 11 TRACKER VIDEO:MISSION SPECIALIST 4 STEVE MACLEAN BOARDS ATLANTIS VIDEO:MISSION SPECIALIST 3 HEIDE PIPER BOARDS VIDEO:MISSION SPECIALIST 2 DAN BURBANK BOARDS VIDEO:MISSION SPECIALIST 1 JOE TANNER BOARDS VIDEO:PILOT CHRIS FERGUSON BOARDS VIDEO:COMMANDER BRENT JETT BOARDS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS EMERGE FROM CREW QUARTERS VIDEO:CREW SUITS UP FOR LAUNCH TO SPACE VIDEO:FINAL INSPECTION TEAM CHECKS ATLANTIS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS READY FOR SECOND LAUNCH TRY MORE: STS-115 patchThe official crew patch for the STS-115 mission of space shuttle Atlantis to resume orbital construction of the International Space Station.Choose your store: – – – John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle’s last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Atlantis no longer seeks shelter and returning to pad BY WILLIAM HARWOOD

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  45. Photo credit: RoscosmosProton rocket boosts Turkish telecom satellite to orbit SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: February 15, 2014 A Turkish telecommunications satellite launched aboard an International Launch Services Proton rocket Friday to begin several decades of service for government and commercial users. The Proton rocket with Turksat 4A launched at 2109 GMT (4:09 p.m. EST) Friday, or 3:09 a.m. local time Saturday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Khrunichev/ILSThe Turksat 4A satellite, built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. in Japan, lifted off at 2109 GMT (4:09 p.m. EST) Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Housed inside an aerodynamic shroud at the top of a Proton rocket, the spacecraft weighed about 5.3 tons with its fuel tanks full at the time of launch.The 191-foot-tall rocket soared into partly cloudy skies from the frigid space center before shedding its six-engine first stage about two minutes after liftoff. The Proton’s second and third stages fired smoothly before the mission’s Breeze M upper stage took over for five maneuvers to boost Turksat 4A into a high-altitude orbit near the equator.It took nine hours for the Breeze M upper stage to do its work before depositing Turksat 4A into geostationary transfer orbit at 0621 GMT (1:21 a.m. EST) Saturday. The rocket was targeting an oval-shaped orbit with a low point of about 6,000 miles and a high point more than 22,200 miles above Earth.International Launch Services, the U.S.-based company managing the commercial Proton mission, declared the flight a success in a statement released Saturday.”This is the first ILS Proton launch for our partners, Mitsubishi Electric and Turksat, and we are happy to have such a strong foundation for our new relationship,” said Phil Slack, ILS president, in the statement. “We are honored to be entrusted to deliver our customers’ satellites to orbit. Thank you to all of the teams at Mitsubishi Electric, Turksat, Khrunichev, and ILS, who have made this launch a success.”ILS is owned by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, the Russian builder of the Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage.Turksat 4A is healthy following launch and has deployed its two electricity-generating solar panels to a wingspan of nearly 83 feet, according to the craft’s operator, Turksat AS. Artist’s concept of the Turksat 4A and Turksat 4B satellites. Credit: MELCOWith a design based on Mitsubishi Electric’s DS2000 satellite bus, Turksat 4A will power its way into a circular geostationary orbit over the next 10 days, Turksat said in a press release.Such an orbit allows a satellite to hover over a fixed geographic position on Earth because the craft’s orbital speed and the rate of the planet’s rotation match.The spacecraft will initially move over the equator at 50 degrees east longitude for testing before transferring to an operational location at 42 degrees east, according to Turksat.Outfitted with Ku-band transponders for direct television broadcasts, along with C-band and Ka-band payloads, Turksat 4A will reach customers in a swath from England to China.Turksat 4A also adds Africa to the Turkish satellite telecom market.”With Turksat 4A, Turkey’s satellite broadcasting capacity will be increased vastly,” said Ltfi Elvan, Turkey’s minister of transport, maritime affairs and communications. “Turkey will be connected to many of the African countries which we could not provide broadcasting services before. For any country in [the] Africa region, it will be easy to receive our TV broadcasts with the Turksat 4A satellite.”Another Turkish satellite, Turksat 4B, will launch on a Proton rocket later this year.The next Proton rocket launch is scheduled for March 15 with the Express AT1 and Express AT2 spacecraft for Russia’s civil communications satellite operator.Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA’s first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Proton rollout with Turksat 4ASPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: February 13, 2014 A Russian Proton rocket rolled to the launch pad in Kazakhstan on Feb. 11 with the Turksat 4A communications satellites, the first of two Turkish telecom payloads to launch this year on Proton.The rocket will launch at 2109 GMT (4:09 p.m. EST) Friday, beginning a nine-hour mission with the Breeze M upper stage to boost Turksat 4A into geostationary transfer orbit.See our for live coverage of the launch.Credit: Roscosmos (video) and Khrunichev (photos)Proton/Turksat 4A launch timelineSPACEFLIGHT NOW

  46. Spaceflight Now’s Stephen Clark viewed the launch from the press site about 2 miles from the pad. This image shows media photographers and NASA Social participants witnessing LADEE’s blastoff. See a . Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

  47. STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: July 31, 2012 In a $2.5 billion gamble, a nuclear-powered Mars rover the size of a small car will attempt a pinpoint landing near the base of a 3-mile-high mountain overnight Sunday to search for the building blocks of life and evidence of past or present habitability.In so doing, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, dubbed “Curiosity” in a student naming contest, will climb layer by layer through vast eras of the red planet’s enigmatic history, possibly shedding light on the transition from a warmer, wetter past to the drier, frigid world of more modern epochs. This artist’s concept shows Curiosity shooting its laser at a rock target. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechDoug McCuistion, director of Mars exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said the mission “could arguably be the most important event in the history of planetary exploration.””It truly is a major step forward, both in technology and in potential science return and science capability to unlock the mysteries of Mars in places that have never been accessible to humankind in the past.”But getting there will not be easy.The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft must first endure entry temperatures of up to 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit, crushing deceleration of up to 15 Gs and the 65,000-pound jerk of a huge parachute inflating at supersonic velocity.After slowing the spacecraft to a bit less than 200 mph, the parachute will be cut away and a rocket-powered descent stage, carrying the Curiosity rover bolted to its belly, will fall free for a nail-biting one-mile plunge to the surface.Controlled by the rover’s main computer, the descent stage will slow to just 1.7 mph, four of its eight rocket engines will shut down and Curiosity will be lowered on the end of a 25-foot-long tether like a bobber on a fishing line.With the descent stage maintaining its slow fall, the rover’s six wheels are expected to touch down on the floor of Gale Crater around 1:17 a.m EDT (GMT-4). Confirmation will be relayed back to Earth in near realtime by NASA’s Mars Odyssey satellite.But because of the distance between Earth and Mars — about 154 million miles — it will take 13.8 minutes for confirmation of a successful landing to reach anxious engineers and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. That translates into 1:31 a.m. on Aug. 6, Earth-received time.”MSL holds the potential to look for evidence of habitable environments, if they existed, on Mars in the distant past,” said NASA science chief John Grunsfeld, a veteran shuttle spacewalker. “The Curiosity rover has the potential to discover the building blocks of life on Mars, if life ever existed on Mars.”However, the Curiosity landing is the hardest NASA robotic mission ever attempted in the history of exploration of Mars or any of our robotic exploration. This is risky business.”Curiosity’s novel “sky crane” landing technique has dominated news coverage, in part because it seems so outlandish compared to past missions and because it appears riskier given a full-up, end-to-end test was not possible in Earth’s atmosphere and gravity.But engineers are confident the entry, descent and landing system will work as advertised, the first act in the most complex, expensive and scientifically significant robotic Mars mission ever attempted.”This rover, the Curiosity rover, is really a rover on steroids,” Colleen Hartman, a senior NASA manager, said before launch. “It’s an order of magnitude more capable than anything we have ever launched to any planet in the solar system. It will go longer, it will discover more than we can possibly imagine.”Over the course of a planned two-year mission, Curiosity will act as a robotic geologist, using high definition cameras to photograph its surroundings in exquisite detail, beaming back wide-angle high-resolution panoramas as well as close-up microscopic views through what amounts to a geologist’s hand lens.Equipped with 10 state-of-the-art instruments and a sophisticated robot arm, the rover will drill into rocks and soil, use a rock-vaporizing laser to assess more distant targets and collect rock and soil samples for detailed chemical analysis. The landing target on the floor of Gale Crater will leave the Curiosity rover near the base of a 3-mile-high mountain of layered terrain. Credit: NASAThe initial phases of the mission will be focused on the crater floor and an alluvial fan visible from orbit where scientists believe water may have pooled in the distant past.But the long-range objective is Aeolis Mons, dubbed Mount Sharp by NASA, a huge wind-eroded mound of sedimentary rocks in the center of Gale Crater that rises more than three miles, higher than Mt. Rainier above Seattle.The instruments aboard Curiosity were not designed to look for signs of life. Rather, the primary goal of the Mars Science Laboratory is to search for carbon compounds and evidence of past or present habitability.”We are not a life detection mission,” Grotzinger said. “The first and important step toward that is to try to understand where the good stuff may be.”Grotzinger would not give odds on finding carbon compounds in Gale Crater, but “the information from orbit looks so darn good … I’d be surprised if we landed on the surface and didn’t find something that looked like it could have been a formerly habitable environment.”But if you’re trying to get me to say what are the chances of finding organic carbon, I’d say it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, and the haystack is as big as a football field.”Searching for carbon compounds is only part of Curiosity’s mandate. As it works its way up the 15-degree slopes of Mount Sharp and passes from older to younger layers, the rover is expected to cross over beds marking a geologically sudden transition from a warmer, wetter past to a drier, less hospitable age.In so doing, hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of years of the planet’s evolution will be brought into focus.”The really cool thing about the Gale stratigraphic succession to me is it’s a tour through nearly the entire history of Mars where we can begin to understand these major changes in the environmental history of the planet,” Grotzinger said in a more recent interview. “And I can’t think of another place on Mars where you can go do that.”To get a sense of the landing site’s potential, Grotzinger said the layers making up Mount Sharp are three times thicker than those in the Grand Canyon, which “takes you … through 300 million years of Earth history, from the origin of animals to the origin of dinosaurs.””If you were to have remote sensing data from an orbiter around Earth, looking at Earth and the Grand Canyon 150 years ago, nobody would have ever predicted that that’s what you would discover if you went there one day,” Grotzinger said. “I don’t know what it is that we’re going to discover about Mars. But I have to believe it’s going to be something really good.”The high-stakes mission comes at a critical time for NASA’s planetary exploration program as budget pressures threaten to sharply reduce the scope of the agency’s robotic missions.The Obama administration’s fiscal 2013 budget request calls for $17.7 billion for NASA, but it cuts $300 million from planetary science, most of it from the Mars program. The Curiosity rover, right, dwarfs its predecessors in this photo showing a Mars Exploration Rover on the left and the diminutive Mars Pathfinder. Credit: NASAAs a result, NASA has backed out of a 2008 agreement with the European Space Agency to share the costs of two ambitious Mars missions known as ExoMars, which called for launch of an orbiter in 2016 and two rovers in 2018.Along with searching for signs of past or present life on Mars, the missions also would have tested technologies needed for a long-sought sample return mission.”Tough choices had to be made,” NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said when the budget was unveiled earlier this year. “This means we will not be moving forward with the planned 2016 and 2018 ExoMars mission. … Instead, we’ll develop an integrated strategy to ensure the next steps in Mars exploration will support science as well as human exploration goals and potentially take advantage of the 2018 and 2020 exploration windows.”In the wake of the budget’s release, Bill Nye, chairman of the Planetary Society, said the “priorities reflected in this budget would take us down the wrong path.””Science is the part of NASA that’s actually conducting interesting and scientifically important missions,” he said in a statement. “Spacecraft sent to Mars, Saturn, Mercury, the Moon, comets and asteroids have been making incredible discoveries, with more to come from recent launches to Jupiter, the Moon and Mars. The country needs more of these robotic space exploration missions, not less.”In a rare show of bipartisan agreement, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and John Culberson, R-Texas, whose states include NASA field centers, wrote in Space News that without congressional action, “the administration’s cuts to planetary science would devastate America’s planetary program.””The robotic Mars program, one of our nation??s science jewels, faces the most severe cuts, including a rover mission to Mars in 2018 identified as the highest priority in planetary science in the most recent decadal survey,” they wrote. “This would be a tragic loss for a program that has made major scientific discoveries and captured the interest of people around the world.”The Curiosity rover is the only so-called “flagship” mission currently in the Mars pipeline and it takes years to plan, design and build new spacecraft. Aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society and author of “The Case for Mars,” said in an interview that the fate of NASA’s Mars program rests firmly on Curiosity’s shoulders.”This is a superb mission, if it succeeds,” he said. “On the other hand, if it fails, it’s the flagship out the window. That would be serious enough. But the stakes were upped this past February when the Obama administration canceled the 2016 and 2018 missions, and thus completely scrambled the program, completely set it adrift.”If Curiosity fails, he said, “not only do you lose this mission, but I think we lose the rest of the decade. On the other hand, if this succeeds, it will be a brilliant mission, it will be the best Mars mission ever flown and I think we have a real chance of not only reversing the missions that were cut but moving on towards sample return.”MSL Project Manager Pete Theisinger said in an interview that he was aware of the outside scrutiny and pressure to chalk up a success. But he said the MSL team was not distracted.”Down in the trenches where the work’s actually accomplished, people love what they do, they’re very professional about it and they want to do the right job and so that’s all they think about,” he said. “It wouldn’t matter whether it was this two-and-a-half-billion-dollar thing that’s on the national stage or it was a $100,000 thing in the lab. They feel the same.”When you get up to the top of the food chain, yeah, there’s a feeling that this is a very visible mission, we know that, people like you don’t call me if it’s not a very visible mission. And so, we know that. But once again, the job is to get the job done and to do it in the best balanced, prudent approach that we can. I don’t think we feel it, we just know it’s there.”MSL gets underway Nov. 26, 2011, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight NowLaunch originally was planned for 2009, but in 2008, the flight was delayed two years to verify the integrity of the myriad actuators used in the rover’s mobility system and robot arm, a delay that added $400 million to the project’s price tag.Curiosity’s journey finally got underway on Nov. 26, 2011, when a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket boosted the craft into space. The spacecraft has performed in near flawless fashion during the long cruise to Mars and now the stage is set for entry, descent and landing Aug. 6.Acting as a robotic geologist, Curiosity is well suited for its trailblazing mission, dwarfing the hugely successful Spirit and Opportunity rovers both in size and scientific capability. The instruments carried by each of the earlier rovers weighed about 11 pounds. The 10 aboard Curiosity weigh 165 pounds.Not counting its robot arm, Curiosity is 10 feet long, nine feet wide and seven feet high measured to the top of its main camera mast. Its mobility system is similar in design to that used by Spirit and Opportunity, but its six 20-inch-wide wheels are twice the size of the earlier models. Each wheel has its own drive motor and the four corner wheels are independently steerable.Top speed is over hard, flat ground is about a tenth of a foot per second, although the rover typically will move at half that velocity when operating autonomously and using hazard avoidance.The earlier rovers were solar powered, forcing them to shut down at night and to hibernate in winter months to conserve power and heat. MSL is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, using the heat produced by the decay of radioactive plutonium dioxide to generate electricity. Excess heat is used to keep electronics and other sensitive systems from getting too cold.Curiosity is equipped with redundant computers, using one at a time and keeping the other as a backup. The computers feature radiation-resistant PowerPC 750 processors operating at 200 megahertz with two gigabytes of flash memory storage, about eight times more than Spirit and Opportunity.The system was designed from the ground up to use the orbiting Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellites to relay engineering and scientific data back to Earth.Independent of the weather and the sun, Curiosity is designed to operate for at least one martian year — two Earth years — and to rove at least 12 miles. But engineers expect it to continue operating well beyond its design specification, both in time and distance.”You’re asking a project manager how long it’s supposed to live and you expect an answer?” Theisinger laughed. “We test these things, the mechanical or moving parts, we test for either two or three times life, usually three times life. So if we know a wheel is supposed to run for 20 kilometers, we’ll test it to 60 kilometers.”We don’t test them to failure. All that we know is that we’ve tested the mechanisms for two or three times life and they all passed that test program. The RTG is good for a decade, 12 years, 15 years, something like that, before we really get into power issues. The battery is probably good for eight years. The electronics are high reliability electronics, but some of it is single string.”It could last a long time if we haven’t made a mistake,” he said. “If Mars doesn’t get us, it could last a long time.”The heart of the spacecraft is the most sophisticated instrument package ever sent to Mars. The Curiosity rover, on the move in Gale Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechThe Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instruments will be used to analyze soil and rock fragments delivered by the lander’s robot arm. It includes a gas chromatograph, a mass spectrometer and a laser spectrometer to look for carbon compounds and measure isotope ratios, which will shed light on the history and distribution of water and the evolution of the martian atmosphere.”You’ve got to have water for life as we know it,” Grotzinger told CNET in an earlier interview. “The second thing is you need a source of energy. … And then the important thing is, you need the fundamental building block, which is carbon.”Whether or not life originated on Mars “verges more on philosophy, really,” he said. “We don’t know how life originated on Earth. I’m really focused on the question, not if life evolved, but if it did evolve where would it be preserved? And where are the places we need to go to find the best potential records of things that could be clues that would lead us on future missions toward the discovery of biosignatures?”Another instrument, called CheMin, uses X-ray diffraction to identify the minerals in collected rocks and soils. The Mars Hands Lens Imager, mounted on the robot arm, will take close-up photos of selected samples while the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, also on the arm, measures the abundances of various elements.A camera mounted on a mast atop the rover will take high-resolution stereo pictures as well as high-definition video. Another mast-mounted instrument known as ChemCam will use a laser to vaporize the surface layers of nearby rocks, a spectrometer to measure the types of materials present in the debris and a camera to photograph the site.A Radiation Assessment Detector will will characterize the radiation environment at the surface, a key factor in planning for eventual crewed missions, while a suite of Spanish instruments called the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station monitors the martian weather.An instrument provided by Russia, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons experiment, will look for signs of water or ice below the surface.”We’ve got this feeling now of Mars as a much more dynamic planet,” Grotzinger said. “The thing about this mission is, it’s really going to confront the whole problem of the origin of sedimentary rocks on Mars and what they mean. Sedimentary rocks on Earth, they are the overwhelming storehouse of organic materials in the history of life. If you want to explore for those organic materials, you’ve got to know how these damn rocks formed.”Climbing Mount Sharp may help answer that question, and undoubtedly raise many more, including what to do next.”There are two major decision points for the science team in this mission,” Grotzinger said. “We’ve done one, which was to pick Gale over the other three landing sites. … The second big decision is going to be when we get up to a boundary (on Mount Sharp) where you can see that the hydrated minerals go away.”There are some people who are going to want to go to the top. And there are other people who are going to say, why don’t we just go across that boundary and do a bunch of work on the other side, maybe spend a year doing that, and then let’s go down again and work on the wet kind of rock types that we saw on the way up.”I think the team will divide into two groups on that one. That will be a major decision.”John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia’s historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard’s historic Mercury mission with this collectors’ item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Relay sats provide ringside seat for Mars rover landing BY WILLIAM HARWOOD

  48. SPECIAL HONORS: Graduated first of 976 in the Class of 1981 at U.S. Naval Academy; Distinguished Graduate U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Class 95. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Department of Defense Superior Service and Meritorious Service Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 3 NASA Space Flight Medals, and various other service awards.

  49. Burbank has logged over 3,500 flight hours, primarily in Coast Guard helicopters, and has flown more than 1,800 missions including over 300 search and rescue missions.

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